Joe Skibinski / IndyCar

Here are the nine drivers who will compete for the Indy 500 pole

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Should projected rain showers keep to a minimum Sunday afternoon, nine drivers representing five different teams will attempt to qualify for the pole position in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

In the Fast Nine Shootout (Sunday, 1:15-2:15 p.m. ET), the top nine drivers from today’s Day 1 of qualifying will have their times wiped away and will run again to set positions 1st-9th – the first three rows on the grid.

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Positions 10-30 were determined today, and the Last Row Shootout (Sunday, 12:15-1:15 p.m. ET) will determine the final three positions of the 33-car field.

Both the Last Row Shootout and Fast Nine Shootout will utilize the same single-car, four-lap average format used today. However, both sessions will only permit one attempt per car.

Here are the nine drivers who will compete in the Fast Nine Shootout, sorted by today’s qualifying times:

  • Spencer Pigot, No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 230.083 mph
  • Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet, 230.081 mph
  • Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet, 229.854 mph
  • Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet, 229.749 mph
  • Colton Herta, No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda, 229.478 mph
  • Ed Jones, No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing/Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet, 229.440 mph
  • Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, 229.349 mph
  • Alexander Rossi, No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda, 229.268 mph
  • Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda, 228.800 mph

Among this year’s Fast Nine, only Carpenter has won an Indy 500 pole (2013, 2014, 2018). He can become just the fifth driver to earn at least four ‘500’ poles, as well as the first driver to win consecutive ‘500’ poles on two separate occasions.

Day 2 of qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, including the Last Row and Fast Nine Shootouts, air live Sunday on NBC starting at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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Eli Tomac’s near-perfect season ended perfectly

ProMotocross.com
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From the start, Eli Tomac wanted to go into the season-ending race at Ironman Raceway with the 2020 red plate already in his possession. That final race has been know to devolve into muddy conditions and it is best not to leave things to chance.

For a rider with an almost perfect record of overall podium finishes, one would not have thought there would be much drama at the end of Round 11 at Budds Creek, but it took until the last lap of the final moto for Tomac to achieve his goal.

One reason was that Tomac’s near-perfect season was not so perfect. From the very beginning at Hangtown, Tomac struggled with poor starts to his events. Getting a bad jump out of the gate and finishing fourth in Moto 1 that weekend was not the auspicious beginning he wanted in search of his third consecutive 450 outdoor championship.

The hallmark of Tomac’s season has been overcoming bad starts. He rode through the field at Hangtown and nearly stood on the podium. Then he won Moto 2 and finished second overall. It was his first of nine consecutive overall podiums. Tomac came back the following week for a perfect sweep at Pala.

In Round 3, Tomac once again got off to a bad start. He finished fifth in Moto 1 at Thunder Valley – and then won Moto 2 in a duplication of his opening round.

In Round 5, Tomac had his worst performance until that time. He finished seventh in Moto 1. Nearly halfway through the season, a pattern was firmly established with his Moto 2 win.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

One should recall that the hallmark of Tomac’s season was strong finishes. Four the next four weeks Tomac failed to podium only one time in a moto. On that occasion, he would stumble in Moto 2 at Spring Creek in Round 8 before scoring his second perfect race at Washougal.

And that is where it got interesting. Tomac left Washougal with a 50-point advantage over Marvin Musquin. It was just the scenario Tomac had seesawed his way through the season to achieve. But it was too good to be true.

In most of his previous bad performances, there was an extenuating circumstance for Tomac’s bad start: a fall or an off course excursion. This time, he simply rode an uninspired race and finished seventh again to match his worst single moto performance. He could not fully rebound in Moto 2 and finished third.

For the first time in 2019, Tomac failed to stand on the overall podium in fourth. Worse still, he lost 10 points to Musquin and no longer had his one-race cushion.

But this is a season of recovery for Tomac. At Budds Creek last week it was reported that Tomac’s lackluster performance in Washington was due to his overdoing his chores on his Colorado ranch. Rested and restored, Tomac scored his third perfect race with Moto 1 & 2 wins. And this time, he looked sharper than he had in any previous race.

Tomac did all the could do by winning both motos, but in the closing laps at Budds Creek he needed a little help to clinch the title. As it turned out, Tomac needed the perfect performance to clinch his third consecutive championship.

In Moto 1, he narrowly edged Ken Roczen and Musquin, to give the three championship contenders a sweep of the top three spots; that was not enough to regain his cushion.

Roczen was close enough to force Tomac into The Ironman needing to score points to permanently affix the red plate on his Kawasaki in 2020, but just as Tomac’s season has been marked by second half improvements, Roczen’s has been marred by a lack of performance in the second motos.

Musquin passed Roczen late in Moto 2 last week and could have extended the drama one more week if he could have caught second-place Jason Anderson. Musquin could not erase an 11-second deficit to the runner-up and now Tomac’s almost perfect season has a distinctly perfect feel to it.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

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